Local & Regional

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Within about three years, the Gilcrease Expressway will finally connect I-44 and Highway 412.

The City of Tulsa, state of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority are teaming up to build 5 miles of four-lane toll road that will finish a Gilcrease loop envisioned for around 50 years. Turnpike board Chair Kell Kelly expects it will have the same impact as the Creek and Kilpatrick turnpikes.

File photo-Tulsa Police

The community policing commission launched after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a Tulsa police officer delivered its recommendations Friday.

The Tulsa Commission on Community Policing has 70 recommendations falling under pillars of building trust, crime reduction, officer wellness, policy, technology and training. Many of the recommendations focus on collaboration between police and the community.

FILE PHOTO-Facebook

 

 

 U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe says damage from a wildfire that scorched hundreds of square miles in northwestern Oklahoma is "unprecedented."

Oklahoma's senior U.S. senator and fellow U.S. Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma spoke to farmers and ranchers in Woodward Friday after visiting some of the fire-damaged areas.

Inhofe says he flew over portions of the region to get an idea of the enormity of damage along the Oklahoma-Kansas border. Inhofe says he's visited other disaster areas but has never seen anything like the wildfire damage in northwestern Oklahoma.

Save-A-Lot Store Coming to North Tulsa

Mar 10, 2017
Honor Capital

An oasis is coming to north Tulsa’s food desert. The veterans’ based group, Honor Capital, plans to build a grocery store on the southeast corner of 36th Street North and Peoria. It will be a Save-A-Lot store. Jim Allen is the President of the group, made up of mostly young vets.

JIM ALLEN: “They lost friends and were injured themselves. When they got out (of the military) they came to me and said “we want to do something besides just make money.” They want to serve their fellow Americans, so they chose the mission of attacking food deserts.”

Community Policing Plan to be Announced

Mar 10, 2017
KWGS News Photo

We will learn the details of a plan to implement Community Policing in Tulsa later today.

The Tulsa Commission on Community Policing will submit its recommendations to Tulsa leaders this afternoon at City Hall.

Mayor G.T. Bynum created the commission in December 2016 and asked the group to provide recommendations regarding community policing strategies that could be implemented in Tulsa.

This follows the death of an unarmed Black man in Tulsa last fall. That put a renewed focus on police interaction with minority communities. 

In the local news:

  • State Lawmakers roll back correction reform measures approved by voters.
  • Additional budget cuts would cripple the Highway Patrol.
  • Winds calm as the western Oklahoma wildfires continue burning.

The McCarville Report

 

Longtime Oklahoma political journalist, broadcaster and author Mike McCarville has died.

McCarville's daughter, Shelli Aliff, says McCarville died Wednesday morning after suffering complications from emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 76.

McCarville's career included work for various Oklahoma newspapers and broadcast stations, including serving as assistant news director of KWTV television and as program director, reporter and talk show host on KTOK radio.

Wikipedia

 

A plan approved overwhelmingly in the House to raise Oklahoma teacher pay by $6,000 over the next three years appears to be facing a stiffer challenge in the state Senate.

Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz said Thursday without a way to pay for the raise, the bill amounts to giving teachers "false hope."

The House voted 92-7 this week for the bill that calls for a $1,000 pay raise for teachers next year, $2,000 the following year and $3,000 in the third year. Each $1,000 pay raise costs about $53 million.

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The Oklahoma House passed a plan Thursday to end the state’s wind energy tax credit ahead of schedule.

The renewable energy tax credit, which covers wind, hydroelectric, solar and geothermal energy producers, is set to expire in three and a half years, but House Bill 2298 would eliminate it for wind projects in three and a half months.

file photo

Oklahoma voters decided in November drug possession should be a misdemeanor, but state representatives passed a bill Thursday saying it may be a felony in certain circumstances.

House Bill 1482 says drug possession within 1,000 feet of a school or in the presence of a child under 12 may be a felony. Purcell Republican Tim Downing said Oklahomans didn’t know what they were voting for.

OHP Details What Additional Cuts Would Mean

Mar 9, 2017
OHP

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol details the impact additional budget cuts will have on the agency. Patrol Chief Ricky Adams says a 15% cut would leave the Patrol with a bare bones operation.

Adams says the Patrol already has over 150 openings and with cuts, there will be no money for an academy class, to fill the positions. He says the patrol is already smaller than it was in 1990.

He says troopers will continue to respond to all emergencies. However, that response could take longer.

File Photo

 

An Oklahoma custom-home builder has been indicted after accusations of involvement in an organized theft ring.

The Oklahoman reports that 43-year-old Dennis Lee is among six defendants charged by a federal grand jury in Oklahoma City. Lee owns Richardson Homes LLC.

An indictment filed Feb. 22 but made public Wednesday alleges that the individuals involved would transport stolen vehicles and riding lawn mowers in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. Grand jurors allege the stolen property was stored at Lee's business.

Okmulgee Police

 

Authorities are investigating after an Okmulgee police officer shot and wounded a woman who was a passenger in a car involved in a high-speed chase.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation says the pursuit began Wednesday after officers tried to make an "undercover buy" of items from a man in Okmulgee. The OSBI says the man fled before officers could complete the purchase, and police began pursuing him.

KWGS News

Three more Tulsa County residents die of flu related illness in the past week, bringing the season total to 16, nearly three times the number of any other county in the state. Kaitlin Snider with the Tulsa Health Department says it is the older population that seems to be most vulnerable. There is a potent vaccine available for people age 65 and older which is supposed to provide more protection, and it is available at health department clinics.

Statewide, 56 people have died of the flu and nearly 19-hundred have been hospitalized…more than 400 of those in Tulsa County.

Tulsa McDonald's Operator to Run for Congress

Mar 9, 2017
Facebook

Tulsa McDonald’s franchise operator Kevin Hern announces his run for congress. Hern is a Republican.

KEVIN HERN: "My life has been a prime example of how anyone can achieve the American dream. I grew up very poor; there was no indoor plumbing until I was in my teens. In addition to food stamps, I supported my family through hauling hay and construction jobs. McDonald’s offered me the opportunity. Through hard-work and determination, I went from making Egg McMuffins to owning and operating eighteen McDonald’s in Eastern Oklahoma and employing thousands of people."

Jarrod Wyatt

The Tulsa Zoo opens a new ‘family den’, but it’s not for the animals, it’s for the people visiting. Lindsay Hutchison is V-P of Philanthropy and Community Engagement at the Zoo. She says the St. John Family Den is a nursing and quiet space for zoo visitors, something the zoo hasn’t had before and something unique to the region.

The Family den is located in the former Amazon Outpost gift shop between the Rainforest and The Grill.

State of Oklahoma-File photo

 

 Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter is making some key staff changes in his office following the departure of his predecessor Scott Pruitt to take over as head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

KWGS News

 

The commissioner of Oklahoma's Department of Public Safety is warning of "crippling" effects if lawmakers move ahead with plans to slash funding, including the closure of two dozen driver's license stations and four weeks of furloughs for employees.

Commissioner Michael Thompson released a list Wednesday of some of the cuts his agency would be forced to make if his budget shrank by 15 percent. It includes the elimination of the Highway Patrol's motorcycle division.

Michael Willmus-Oklahoma Watch

 

 The director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections is canceling contracts to house state inmates at county jails in a cost-saving move.

Director Joe Allbaugh said Wednesday the agency is looking for ways to close a projected $3 million budget hole through June 30, the end of the fiscal year. It's part of a revenue shortfall of $34.6 million due to lagging state revenues.

The county jails charged $32 per day to house the inmates. The move should save about $775,000 through the end of the year.

In the local news:

  • A Mumps outbreak is confirmed in Tulsa County.
  • Wild fires continue to burn in western Oklahoma.
  • Debate gets heated on "Blue Lives Matter' legislation at the State Capitol.

Mumps Outbreak in Tulsa County Reported

Mar 9, 2017
File photo

The Tulsa Health Department is currently investigating an outbreak of mumps in Tulsa County.  There have been 8 cases identified, 5 of which have been laboratory confirmed. One of the confirmed cases is a student at the 7th Grade Center at Owasso Public Schools.

Tulsa Sports Commission

The Tulsa Sports Commission announces eight beneficiaries for this year’s Tulsa Federal Credit Union Tulsa Run.

River Parks Foundation is the primary beneficiary for the 40th running of the 15K. It will receive $25,000, which will go toward its privately funded park patrol program.

Oklahoma House members passed a measure Wednesday to ensure strict penalties when a police officer is killed.

House Bill 1306, titled the Blue Lives Matter in Oklahoma Act of 2017, says people convicted of or pleading no contest to first-degree murder of an officer shall get the death penalty or life without parole unless there’s an "overwhelming amount of mitigating evidence."

Rep. Casey Murdock told his colleagues while the bill was being heard the intent is for the death penalty to be preferred in such cases. A previous version mandated only the death penalty.

Wildfires Rage in Western Oklahoma

Mar 8, 2017
State Forestry Service

The fire fight continues across western Oklahoma. Three major fires continue to burn. Oklahoma State Forestry Service spokesman Luke Kanclerz is on the fire line. He says progress is slow. 

Governor Fallin has declared a state of emergency for northwest Oklahoma. Additional crews and supplies are being brought in from Arkansas to give firefighters a break.

Kanclerz says it will be days before they can total up the homes and barns that have been damaged or destroyed. 

Stillwater Police

 

  Police say two suspects have been arrested in a shooting near Stillwater that killed one man and wounded two women.

Lt. Dale Higgins says both men were arrested Tuesday, one in Stillwater and one in Raton, New Mexico, on first-degree murder warrants.

Online court records do not show that either man has been formally charged.

Police say the two are suspected in the fatal shooting of 21-year-old Christian Thomas Peck, who died Sunday afternoon following the shooting in Payne County, south of Stillwater. Two women were wounded in the shooting.

KWGS News Photo

Opponents line up at the state capitol against two measures they claim are designed to ‘scare’ those who peacefully protest against oil and gas pipelines. The Director of Oklahoma Bold, Mekasi Camp-Horinek, says a new climate in Washington emboldens those who propose what he calls these type of unconstitutional laws.

The bills, if passed, would greatly increase trespass fines and jail time for protesting on what is termed ‘critical infrastructure’ land. Opponents say they are really aimed at discouraging free speech and civil resistance.

File photo

 

  A Tulsa attorney specializing in drunken-driving cases is criticizing legislation that would criminalize refusing to take a breath test to determine if someone is intoxicated.

The Tulsa World reports attorney Bruce Edge announced his opposition Tuesday and discussed filing a lawsuit to challenge a new set of administrative rules dealing with DUI arrests.

Enrollment Meeting Halted; Gets Heated

Mar 8, 2017
TPS

An enrollment lottery for coveted spots at the Zarrow International School in Tulsa is halted as tempers flare at a Tuesday night meeting at the Education Service Center.

There are more students wanting into the program than it can accommodate. At issue are the high number of siblings wanting into the same school as a big brother or sister.

State Impact-Oklahoma

 

Oklahoma Treasurer Ken Miller says he's cautiously optimistic after overall collections to the state treasury last month were slightly higher than those from the same month last year.

Miller released figures Tuesday showing it's the second straight month of revenue growth following 20 months of contraction.

Gross receipts to the state treasury in February totaled $759.5 million, which is about $1 million more than February of 2016. Miller also noted that February saw the first increase in sales tax collections since March 2016.

In the local news:

  • Two are dead as wildfires continue to burn in Oklahoma.
  • An enrollment meeting for the Zarrow International School is halted as tempers flare.
  • A murder suspect is arrested in Rogers County

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